Talking AFCON

SHARE   |   Sunday, 18 January 2015   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang
Zebras coach Peter Butler Zebras coach Peter Butler

The Zebras may have failed to qualify for the greatest soccer showpiece on the continent but local soccer enthusiasts will not switch off the soccer channels in their television sets. This is their feast too; and they have a lot to say:    

States Segopolo – Former Township Rollers and Zebras player 

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Looking at the teams at the AFCON competition do you foresee an interesting tournament? 

The AFCON this year promises to be a very interesting competition indeed. Looking at the group stage especially Group C and Group D, these are very tough groups that promise a very fierce fight to proceed to the next round. It is not going to be an easy run for any team here and definitely some of the big teams are not going to reach the next round. 

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What are the odds for the Southern African teams?  

There are only two teams representing the south being Zambia and South Africa. Both teams are former AFCON Champions and they have a great deal of experience to compete for the title. South Africa has shown a great improvement in their play since coach Shakes Mashaba took over. Their qualification form also speaks volumes since they have never lost under Mashaba. Zambia, on the other side, has a potential and good record but I do not see these teams winning this title this year.   

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Which countries do you favour to win this competition?

I go with Algeria and Cameroon. Algeria is the top ranked team in Africa and they are playing very well at the moment so I tip them to the title. However Cameroon is also my favourite. After struggling for a long time to do well at AFCON, the country has built a new team of young players hungry for glory. 

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There are always surprise packages. Which team do you think may cause upset?

Cape Verde has proven to be a surprise package. Look at what it did during the qualifiers. No one was expecting this. I still feel this small country will continue where it left off in the qualifiers. They are coming up very strong.  

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The competition is mostly dominated the Northern and Western African teams. What could be the reason for this?

These countries have a lot of their players playing in top leagues in the world and this means they already have an upper hand over our players. They also have more professional leagues and competitions running compared to the southern and eastern countries.   

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What should countries in the south do to improve their chances to win the competition? What is lacking with them?

I honestly think lack of more competitions in the region is a disadvantage. The likes of the COSAFA used to help the players to play more together. I think the region should stand up and organise more tournaments for competition to be there at all times. Development of quality players should be the core of the business for us to have a chance to win this championship.  

Fabian Zulu - Former Notwane player

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Looking at the teams at the AFCON competition do you foresee an interesting tournament? 

This is going to be a very unpredictable and exiting tournament. I am saying it is going to be unpredictable because looking at the so called big teams in Africa they have all changed their teams and brought up many new faces in their squads. It will be interesting to see how the young squads do this year. The thing is they will be playing to make a mark and impress so this may affect their overall performance.   

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What are the odds for the Southern African teams?

Like I said it is still unpredictable. However, Zambia remains a question mark for me if they will proceed. They did not have proper preparations and their squad also has been changed a lot. I still doubt their progression. Looking at South Africa they qualified without a loss and their form is still very high reflective even during their friendly matches. They have been doing very well; their coach is doing a marvellous job. The team might do well but they will be up against a very tough group so they have to work harder.    

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Which countries do you favour to win this competition?

It is not easy for me to say because I foresee an unpredictable tournament. Normally, I give an answer to this question this after the first round following my analysis of the games. 

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There are always surprise packages. Which team do you think may cause upset?

Teams like Cape Verde will also bring a surprise element. Look how a lot of teams are having friendly games and Cape Verde is having a little. They do not want to expose themselves but want to remain the dark horses.  

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The competition is mostly dominated the Northern and Western African teams. What could be the reason for this?

I think this is because the teams in these regions are using a combined style of play. They combine the African style and the European flair type of football. Most of their players are playing in Europe so they have that kind of flair. 

Peter Butler- Senior National Soccer team Coach  

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Looking at the teams at the AFOCN competition do you foresee an interesting tournament? 

Definitely, it is going to be a very fascinating competition. There are a lot of good quality teams especially form West Africa. 

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What are the odds for the Southern African teams?

The two teams have been doing very well recently but I am not sure of South Africa given the group that they are in. They are in a very difficult group with good teams from the west so I have doubts about their progression. Zambia may go through the group stages if they continue their good pay. 

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Which countries do you favour to win this competition?

I would say Senegal and Algeria. 

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There are always surprise packages. Which team do you think may cause an unexpected upset to the others?

Zambia has been doing very well and I think they will come up as a surprise. Even Tunisia; the team has come up very well this season and they look like they mean business.

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The competition is mostly dominated the Northern and Western African teams. What could be the reason for this?

This is because of the standard of football these teams have. These countries have a lot of players in Europe and they play their style. This gives them the added advantage against the other teams. 

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What should countries in the south do to improve their chances to win the competition? What is lacking with them?

They should invest more on good facilities. Build more academies to work on talent development and nurturing of players at a young age. If this is done thoroughly then the status and standard of football will be improved and more players will start to go and play overseas. 



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